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Recycling rates are threatened by Knowaste's West Bromwich plant closure

Councils have said that the immediate closure of the Knowaste nappy recycling facility in West Bromwich has had ‘unacceptable’ consequences.

Local authorities involved with the West Bromwich nappy recycling facility said they were disappointed by the shock closure of Knowaste’s only plant, and are having to find alternate means of disposing of nappies and other absorbent hygiene products.

Councils affected by the closure are Cheshire West and Chester, Monmouthshire and Cardiff, which were running absorbent hygiene product recycling trials at the site.

Luton and Sandwell councils, which received funding from the Pickles bin fund to send nappies to Knowaste to be recycled, were also due to start trials and said they now have to look for alternatives.

Cardiff County Council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Ashley Govier (Lab) said: “There is potential for the council to lose 1% of our recycling rate. It is unacceptable to the administration that our recycling rates could be affected and as a result incurring a greater tax burden by landfilling the nappies we collect.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council said it was disappointed that it would have to find a new method of disposal, as the scheme had been popular with 1,500 participants in the area.

Executive member for community and environment, Cllr Lynn Riley (Cons), casted doubt on the feasability of nappy recycling, saying: “The closure of the Knowaste facility, the only one of its kind in England signals that despite proving the concept, overall costs remain for the moment at a level which makes this form of recycling unviable.”

Monmouthshire County Council has had to suspend sending nappies from 1,000 households for recycling. Cabinet member for county operations, Cllr Bryan Jones (Cons) said: “We are very disappointed that this has happened so suddenly. We have had no warning from the company that this was a possibility.”

He added: “We are continuing to provide a separate collection of nappy waste whilst we review what options are available to us for the future.”

Knowaste told MRW it hopes to announce a new site within three months, and the firm has already identified two or three prospective sites.

Knowaste’s UK business development director Paul Richardson told MRW: “We will go back to all of these councils when the new site opens.”

He added: “We found the infrastructure needed for the plastics and fibres market far more sophisticated than we originally imagined.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • Perhaps it's about time that we considered a producer responsibility obligation for disposable nappies? This is not the first plant that Knowaste has built then shut down - even if it is the first in the UK.

    If recycling these products is the right way forward - rather than washable products- it will only be sustainable if there is a substantial body like P&G standing behind it.

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  • Why would anyone close down a facility that worked?

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